Outside magazine, June 1994
Few can hit a curveball, but almost anyone can make a ball curve, unless their throwing mechanics have been polluted by exposure to slow-pitch softball, a detestable game foisted upon this country by drunks, pretenders, and quite a few fat people. This, of course, is why individuals of integrity discuss that bastard activity as often as they play it--which is to say, never. When we play ball, or just play catch out on the lawn, we're doing it with a hardball, by God.
These are your two options for holding the ball, but a question remains: Which one is best? On this we consulted several authorities, including Rich Gale, a pitching coach in the Montreal Expos organization; former major league pitchers Doug Bird and Eric Rasmussen; and Gene Lamont of the Chicago White Sox, the 1993 American League Manager of the Year. Opinions varied. Actually, these guys couldn't agree on anything. But it was generally accepted that most big-league pitchers hold the ball with the seams to throw a curve. So that's what you're going to do.
Now you're ready to throw some curves. As you release the ball, turn the back of your throwing hand to the catcher. Don't snap it--not yet, anyway. At this point we don't care if the ball breaks or not. Just get the feel of turning your hand, of pulling down and across on the seam that lies beneath your middle finger.
Continue at close range until you begin to feel comfortable with pulling the seam to make the ball rotate. A good curve needs to spin at about 1,800 rpm to break effectively. When your fingertips are properly trained, you should be able to make the ball blur as you lob it home.
Letting it fly
You've just thrown what hitters call a yellow hammer, an honest-to-God roundhouse, not to be confused with dissimilar, more easily hit offerings known as pus or cheese. That's right, you've thrown a curveball.
And if you didn't? You may belong in a different game--but we won't mention its name.